Sunday, August 28, 2011

Late Golf Season Advice

I get a number of calls at the Academy this time of year from players that currently find themselves in a complete state of confusion. My advice to these players is basic and simple. Start at the beginning. The following is a check list that can help you get back on the right track.

Step 1. Check your grip. Put your hands on the golf club and extend the club in front of you. Is the bottom edge of the golf club vertical or is it tilted to the right or the left? If it is tilted, work on your grip until you can make the extension and the club remains vertical. Now at this point I usually hear how a player has done something to his grip to compensate for a directional miss. That is fine, you can always add that feature back in if you need it, but for now let’s see if we can build a swing without it.

Step 2. Without re-gripping the club in any way, set the club down behind the ball and point the face of the club at your target. If from this position your body feels twisted move your feet, not your hands. I repeat, move your feet to balance your posture to the club position. This way you insure proper alignment and ball position. If you twist yourself into alignment, your body will untwist at the start of the motion and ruin your swing.

Step 3. If you have gone through Steps 1 and 2 and feel comfortable over the ball, you can now start your swing. Do you start the same way every time? It is important that you do. For most players there are two ways you can start your swing, either by moving your arms across your chest or by turning your shoulders. Try to use one or the other, moving everything at once does not always work so well.

As we have said many times a consistent golf swing is a choice. In making this choice you have to temporarily live with the results. The good thing is that a consistent set up and start will produce a pretty consistent result. So if the ball is not doing exactly what you want, at least the chances are good the misses will be the same and the solution easier to find. For example if every shot is a slice, you can make adjustments to fix the slice.

As you judge your progress remember this. If you are not hitting the ball solidly in the middle of the face this is normally a balance issue. Focus your attentions there. If you use the system we stated above and you have a directional problem it is a problem with the use of your hands. The ball goes where the face is pointed; so make sure it is pointed in the right direction at impact.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fast Track to Lower Scores

As the season progresses, have you played the quality of golf you had hoped at the season’s start? This is typically the time of year, at the United States Golf Academy, we hear from those who haven’t. I call them the desperation calls. How can I get better fast?

Start with your sand wedge. Hit the first 5 balls, to carry 5 yards in the air. Now hit 5 more twice as far – 10 yards. Then hit 5 more twice as far again or 20 yards. Then hit some 40, then 80, stopping when you get close to the full distance of your wedge. Do not make a full swing with your wedge! This “not quite” full swing is exactly what you need to control every other club in the bag! Now grab your driver. Picture a fairway on the range, go through your complete routine, and try to get the ball in the fairway. Hit 5 drives, using the same routine and set up for each one. Do not change based on one result. After the 5th drive, analyze the results. Did the ball do the same thing for all 5 drives? If not go back and make 5 swings until the results are the same, good or bad. Once the results are consistent, finding a fix is much easier. We can’t permanently fix random results. At this point we have worked on our iron game by using the wedge, improved our full swings by working with the driver and with that we have learned the importance of consistence.

Next take your putter and head for the practice green. Take a very short stroke and see how far the ball rolls. Then take the next ball and with a little longer stroke see how far it goes. Make each stroke progressively longer. Remember no target, just judge the length of the stroke and watch the results. If you get good at this drill you have five balls on a line, each going about 5 feet farther than the previous one. Now go to the opposite side of the green and do the same thing coming back. This drill gives you a better feel for the mechanics of creating distance. Finally take the five golf balls and put them in a circle five feet from one of the cups on the green. Try to make all 5 putts. If you are very good see how many you can make in a row. Finally take the five balls and throw them scattered around the green. Try to get each of the five balls up and down in two strokes without any “do overs” or mulligan’s.
In the end you have worked on everything you will need to play better. Improved wedge play, better control and tempo for your irons, more fairways and better overall swing mechanics by working with the driver and lower scores because of your focus on the short game.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Simple Advice for more Driver Distance

“Everyone is looking for more distance off the tee.” Well, maybe not everybody, but it is a request we get every day at the United States Golf Academy. It isn’t hard to find advice on hitting the ball farther. Every golf publication knows if they put a tip for longer drives on the cover they will sell more magazines. For those who are more digitally literate, it is a very popular search phrase on the internet. When you read or hear this advice it is almost always about making swing changes to find more club head speed. Lift weights; work out, more leverage, bigger shoulder turn, and on and on. This is all good advice, but only for the player who has time to practice and take the time necessary to make the swing changes required. This is a topic for another day, but one of the reasons a player might struggle is that they are in a state of constant change. So what can you do, with what you have, to increase your distance?

First, you can’t make up for a mishit with club speed. Doesn’t matter how “forgiving” a golf club is marketed to be. So focus on hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the golf club rather than trying to swing the club faster. You can find the sweet spot by holding the shaft with two fingers and letting the club hang. Then tap the face with a finger tip. Move around the face and you will feel the club try to twist in your fingers, except for one point on the face. This is where you want to hit the ball. Mark that spot with a dry erase marker and try to hit the ball with that spot. Two good things will happen. The ball will go straighter because it is hard to hit the sweet spot of the club with anything but a square clubface. More important to this conversation, this is the location on the face where the ball leaves the club the fastest. The faster the ball comes off the club the farther it flies. How fast the ball is moving is more important than how fast the club moves.

Second, so many players, in anticipation of the collision with the golf ball, actually slow the swing as they move into the hitting area. This anticipation and slowing at impact is a very common problem. You even see it on the tour once in awhile. The thought I always try to give my students is to swing the club past the ball, not too the ball. Try very hard to have the fastest portion of your swing beyond impact. Another way to insure you are swinging through the ball is to hold your follow through. Pose like someone is taking your picture.

Try these two simple suggestions and see if you don’t add some yards to your drives.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Club Fitting Advice

We take great pride at the United States Golf Academy in our ability to fit the correct golf equipment to our students and customers. We believe having the right equipment to be an integral part of a student’s success. Not only should every club have the correct dimensions and shaft option, but equally as important is finding the right set configuration. Each time a student steps up to a shot, they have the right tool for the task.

Analyze each club in your set. Is each club performing to expectations? One hundred years ago your clubs were built for you one at a time. You purchased a driver, a long fairway club, middle fairway club, short fairway club, specialty clubs for rough or sand, and specific clubs for around the green. I believe this is still the best way to accumulate a set of clubs. More and more we see the industry moving back to the original concept of one club at a time.

As you analyze your clubs you can’t assume that a “set” of clubs will give you the equipment you need for your distance requirements. Try this process. First, find a driver that gives you the best results. Then find a putter that fits you. These are the two most important clubs in terms of scoring with the putter being the most overlooked when it comes to fitting. This is a huge mistake, as getting a putter that fits you and your particular stroke will reap the greatest rewards. Next, find a fairway club that gives you the best combination of distance and trajectory. This is not necessarily a 3 wood. This will be some combination of loft and length that gives you the most possible distance from a shot struck of the turf. For example we fit many 17 degree golf clubs at 42.5 inches in length as the “3 wood”. Not traditional specifications, but the best results. Now move to the shortest distance and chose the wedge loft that best suits your needs around the green. This will be a club with between 54 and 64 degrees. Then compare the distance between the shortest club and your long fairway club. What is the distance you hit each of these clubs? Let’s say the best fairway club you can find is 200 yards and the wedge you chose goes 68. Since you have chosen a driver, fairway club, wedge and a putter you have ten available clubs to cover the gap of 132 yards. A reasonable gap between clubs is about 12 yards. So we find a club for each yardage. With the advent of hybrids and super game improvement clubs the options are countless.

Building a “set” of club clubs in this manner has two great has two great advantages. First, it makes you a better player with a better understanding of your equipment. Second, it is a lot of fun to build your personal set.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Golf Ball Fitting

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Golf Club Fitting

Print this coupon for Free 1 Hour Driver Fitting using Trackman technology. Call 800-935-5401 to schedule appointment $99.00 value
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Special Green Fee Offer

Print this coupon for a special rate with cart of $19.00. Good Monday through Thursday before 10:00a.m.
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Overnight Special

Print this coupon for a Special Rate of $69.00 plus tax, for August 22-25.
Call 800-582-7539 Ext. 778 for reservations.
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